Trapdoor was released for the ZX Spectrum by Piranha software (I always found that name a bit strange) in 1986.
They had already released classic games such as Rogue Trooper and the developer of Trapdoor, Don Priestley became synonymous with 'big and colourfulgraphics' due to this game and Popeye.
Most of you will remember the children's TV programme Trapdoor the claymation style cartoon set in a dank, dark, mysterious castle. Well, the style and content of the TV show was pretty good material for a computer game, and Don Priestley did a good job of creating a game based on the show.
In this game you played the character of Berk (the hero from the TV show). Berk had to move around the rooms in the castle collecting the objects required to feed the boss (an unseen impatient fellow who lived in the attic).
The boss (simply named 'Thing') would bark orders ('Berk: Feed Me!) and you would have to prepare whatever snack he desired - all within a time limit.
A large trapdoor nestled in the floor of the start location. Just like in the show all sorts of nasty beasties lurked in the creepy room below it. A specific 'trapdoor monster' was needed to complete each task, so it was up to you to open the trapdoor and trust in lady luck as to what creature would jump out. If the creature was not useful then you would have to usher it back down below (for example a ghost would not return to the trapdoor until you fed it) and then re-open the trapdoor to have your desired 'helper'.
Useful objects and cooking utensils were dotted around the castle rooms. Of course most of them were cunningly hidden inside other objects and Berk had to pick things up and 'tilt' them to get at whatever was hidden inside. By combining these objects and the correct trapdoor monster he could produce the right meal for Thing and complete the task at hand. It's all a bit too cerebral if you ask me...
If Berk lost a vital object by dropping it down the trapdoor then the task could not be completed, and you had to commit suicide by throwing him into the void below the trapdoor...Talk about harsh!
Apart from the foes in the castle vaults, Berk did have some friends in the place. Boni the skull was quite intelligent - and could be picked up causing him to say something useful (giving you a clue - the downside being it would cost points grrr).
Drutt was a yellow spider that was basically a pest and did little except eat worms. Other creatures slithered and squirmed their way around the castle - some of them were actually ingredients for Things meals!
At the end of the week, if Berk had correctly completed all of his chores then he would get paid. Unfortunately, Thing was not a trusting soul and Berk's wages were sent down via the dumb waiter in a fortified safe. To get your pay you had to figure out how to get inside the safe - not a nice end to the working week.
Trapdoor was a popular TV show, and the game was anticipated by many. When it arrived the reaction was positive - Don Priestly had managed to capture the atmosphere of the cartoon perfectly and the large and well animated characters were spot on. Not only that it was technically impressive - using full colour on the characters and the locations with barely any of the dreaded Speccy attribute clash was true brilliance. The concept of the game was pretty original too and solving the puzzles and making the strange meals for Thing was generally a good laugh.
The test of time:
Because Trapdoor was based on a show it doesn't seem too dated - the game matched the look of the TV programme perfectly. This classic game hits nostalgia on two levels, when you play it you remember the game (obviously!) as well as the TV show. The graphics still look nice - and stomping your way around the castle is a pleasant way to pass a bit of time (as long as you play it on learner level). Here in Spectrum Games we have a soft spot for it. Ahhhhhhh.
Open the Trapdoor and take a peek.
Don't you open that trapdoor, You're a fool if you dare.... Stay away from that trapdoor, 'Cos there's something down there....
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Trapdoor for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Arcade Game (Puzzle Game)
RELEASE DATE: October of 1986
RELEASED BY: Piranha Software
DEVELOPER(S): Don Priestley
PRICE: £7.95 - UK
Berk goes for a wander in Trapdoor in this classic game:
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